UPDATE. A judge postponed Tuesday’s hearing until Thurs., Dec. 19 to allow the City of Montreal more time to prepare.
A longtime Montreal stable owner has filed a last-minute court injunction to try to stop the city from banning horse-drawn carriages. The ban takes effect on New Year’s Day.
Luc Desparois, owner of Lucky Luc stables, said he’ll be in court Tuesday, fighting what he calls a “stupid” regulation that will “prevent us from working — from earning our living.”
The city approved the ban after a series of incidents involving the calèche horses, ranging from their collapse to a collision with a car, prompted growing calls for a prohibition on the horse-drawn carriages.
Desparois accused the mayor of basing a decision to impose the ban on lies. He said he would stop running his business immediately if there were any evidence that the calèche industry is bad for horses.
“You say the horses are mistreated. You say it’s not good for the horses to do this. Give the proof,” he said.
“I love my animals. I wouldn’t hurt them. If I didn’t think it was right for the horses to do this, I wouldn’t be doing this myself.”
Desparois was found guilty of making his horse work in extreme heat this past July. An inspector found the horse, Fred, pulling a carriage when it was 29 C outside.
Desparois was fined $500, as municipal regulations say horses must stop working at 28 C or higher.
In November 2018, one of his horses died while on duty. At that time, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said the animal’s sudden death confirmed her Projet Montréal administration’s decision to shut down the calèche industry was the right one.
Desparois said he has never been shown the results of a necropsy on the cause of death and hasn’t seen any evidence that the horse died because of mistreatment.
Project Montréal Coun. Sterling Downey, the city’s deputy mayor, said the goal was to provide the horses with new lives in the countryside — but only one horse owner signed on.
It appears owners are still “exploiting these animals” outside of Montreal as the bylaw only impacts the City of Montreal, he said.
Featured Image: Luc Desparois rents the land where his stable is located, in Griffintown. He filed a court injunction Monday against Montreal’s ban on horse-drawn carriages, which goes into effect on Jan. 1. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)